By on March 31, 2010

In a number of municipalities, decreases in tax receipts seem to be followed by an increase in traffic tickets according to USA Today [Hat Tip: ClutchCarGo]. Surprised? Clearly you don’t read much of our coverage of the proliferation of speed cameras. It’s no surprise that cities turn to speed cameras to shore up budget gaps, as the companies that sell automated ticketing machines regularly highlight the revenue upsides of their products to politicians. But what about “the cushion,” the five to ten mile per hour grace given by gentlemanly police officers to motorists just barely over the speed limit?

Unsurprisingly, the officers quoted in the story insist that they enforce the law no matter what, but USA Today points to a study that showed local citations typically go up in years after a tax revenue shortfall. Meanwhile, Canton, OH, gave out four times as many tickets in January as they did in January 2009 [ed: was that you Jack Baruth?], more jurisdictions are considering “super speeder” tickets, and we’re even seeing taxes on speeding tickets. Hell, even public transportation is figuring out that more enforcement equals more cash. None of which should come as much surprise at all: TTAC’s “speed law” expert Casey W. Raskob warned motorists of the dangers of cash-starved local governments over a year ago. So, whether you live in a state that actively targets motorist-based revenue or not, watch out. Speed kills… budget shortfalls. But only if you get caught.

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66 Comments on “Does A Weak Economy Mean The Death Of “The 10 MPH Cushion”?...”

  • avatar

    Radar detectors and laser jammers, here we come. This is nothing compared to the search and seizure going in in Texas:


  • avatar

    They haven’t sent the memo out to us on the frontlines here in central KY. Frankly, the 5- 10 mph cushion is a nod to practicality rather than some sort of gentleman’s agreement. If you tried to stop everybody doing 75 or 80 on I-75, you’d go nuts. Throw in the fact that doing less than 10 over doesn’t get any points on your driver’s license in KY and there’s really no point when there are dozens of people flying by at 15 or more over at any given moment all around you.

  • avatar

    I dunno. Here in Jersey, our new Governor Lard Lad recently called for monster sized tax increases for everyone except people making over $400K (those people will get a tax break…really). A lot of people here in Jersey have finally noticed the local gendarmerie are pulling in over $100K on average. I live in a town were the average household income is $78K, and patrolmen(not supervisors) with 10 years on the clock make $130K. A lot of nice people who use to be cop sycophants have now started calling them donut inhaling badge-scum. A ticket blitz at this point in time will make them even more popular. On the other hand, the local cops ain’t all that bright and may not realize that the peasants are about ready to storm city hall with pitchforks and torches.

    • 0 avatar

      -10… please check your weak-suck political aspersions and class-envy at the door, skor.

      I received three speeding tickets (and talked my way out of a fourth) in a span of a year, driving a “Daytona Blue” ’07 350Z… all from the Cali HP. With that color and the bright, shiny chrome wheels, it was like crows attracted to a shiny object.

      I deserved all but one of them. The one I didn’t deserve was given to me by an officer who looked like a cross between the late Nick Adams and Vladimir Putin.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s not class envy to point out the unsustainable nature of paying public employees more than what private citizens make. When you’re getting paid more than the people paying your salary, that can’t go on for very long.

    • 0 avatar

      GeneralMalaise, been dealing with the same lately with my son. Bought an ’99 Toyota Avalon for my son’s to drive. Not the coolest car on the block, but way safer than some of the stuff other parents are buying their kids.

      The car needed tires so we bought alloy rims and saved the stock beat up rims for the winter tires. Next the suspension was shot so we replaced it with Vogtland lowering springs and Tokico shocks (it handles much nicer now.) Finally, to keep it a bit cooler we tinted the side and rear windows…not real dark…went with a 28% light pass film. The car looks much nicer than when we got it but I wouldn’t call it “ghetto”…with only 55 profile 16” wheels.

      My son, who was never stopped before, got stopped within a week or two of tinting. He was stopped 4 more times in the next couple months…usually let go with a comment. The last time the guy gave him a warning on the tinting.

      I suspect, with the tinting, the cops can’t see who is inside and with the wheels and lowered car, there may be some “profiling” going on. Two weeks ago I took the car back and had them put their lightest tint on the windows…a 40%. We’ll see how that works.

      Meanwhile I see lots of cars with darker tint driving around…but not necessarily in our neighborhood.

  • avatar

    I am waiting for this to happen in Ohio. Normally the troopers lined up every 5-10 miles on I-71 will let you by with 8-10 over the limit. But the state budget is tight and they may lose their $75K per year and cushy 25 and out pension, so there will be an incentive to prove themselves.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m so glad I finally moved out of that state. I got two tickets in 6 months right before I left for going 5 to 10 over (stupid me there was nobody around but me and the cop.) Moved to New Mexico and have gotten ONE ticket in 10 years. (In New Mexico) I was going 20mph over and had a cop PASS me, NO TICKET! The cost of my NM ticket was the same as my Ohio ticket was 10 years ago. But I’ve got a radar detector in my truck and I’m planning on buying the best one I can get my hands on when I purchase my next vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Schwartz

      I have always tried to stay under 73 on I71, but Ohio is a cop ridden hell hole. If you are from out of state, observe the posted limit.

    • 0 avatar

      EFF Ohio. I lived in Michigan for 13 years, and would go out of my way to drive through Indiana, rather than drive through ticket happy ohio.

    • 0 avatar

      lilpoindexter: I’m sure the Michigan plates don’t help your situation. Go Bucks!

      I’ve made the six hundred mile trek from Columbus to Norfolk almost ten times in the past year and generally keep it within ten over of the speed limit except in a couple of areas (I-64 close to home and WV turnpike where I generally hit my highest speeds on the trip) and I’ve had no problems. I keep off the interstates in Ohio, though, sticking with US routes 23 and 35.

      I think the 10 mph cushion will only go away in more rural areas with less traffic. On interstates, especially in metropolitan areas, they’d have to pull over every single car if they did away with it. If I had to guess I’d say that’s where the cushion came from in the first place, anyway.

  • avatar

    Ludowici ain’t changed much…

  • avatar



  • avatar

    Well, there is an alternative. The Light Sport Aircraft license is easy and relatively cheap to get. The aircraft, while not exactly cheap, are cheaper than a lot of exotics ($120k new) and you can always rent. The best part is that you can cruise along legally at 135 mph out of reach of the cameras, Boss Hogg, and left lane bandits. Flying isn’t a perfect solution, but if you’re getting fed up with the roads, it may be worth looking into.

  • avatar

    All I can say is that in suburban Chicago, the cops are out there in force, and traffic stops/flashing lights seem everpresent…yes, I’d say that the 10 mph cushion is definitely over, at least here.

    Doesn’t seem to be as bad in the Chicago city limits, though. As per usual, city cops have their hands full with violent crime, gangs, and assorted mayhem. It’s out in the ‘burbs where the cops have nothing better to do, that you really have to watch out.

  • avatar

    This piece reminds me of two favorite stories. Lester Maddox ran a restaurant in Atlanta and rode anti-integration notoriety to the governor’s office. He was no dummy, though: discussing the problem of prison reform, he said “there’s nothing wrong with Georgia’s prisons that couldn’t be fixed with a better class of prisoner.”

    In Oklahoma, a wave of speed limit puritanism led to posting “No Tolerance” signs right under the speed limit signs. Along I-35 south of OKC the speed limit sign disappeared for some reason. So out-of-state visitors were thereby warned to watch their P&Q’s because Oklahoma had “No Tolerance.”

  • avatar

    In North Carolina we still have the cushion. It’s supported by two state policies that are unlikely to change: no insurance points for speeding less than 10 over and (especially) the state constitution mandates all fines go to the school system. When the camera vendors were stopped by the state supreme court from going around the second one, the cameras for the most part dried up and blew away. Also because of that pesky constitutional limit, local governments and cop shops have no financial incentive to write tckets.

    • 0 avatar

      Although, they could still cut the budget on education and expect to make up for it on ticket sales. But, I’m sure it makes it a little less likely to be exploited as few politicians want to be known as anti-education on budgets.

  • avatar

    I wonder what would happen if everybody stopped speeding? I can’t help but think they would resort to draconian ticketing of other things. Not enough tire tread, cracked tail light, registration sticker on crooked, etc.

  • avatar

    RE: Fleecing the out-of-state…last winter I was nailed speeding in Summit Count, CO on the pass between Breck and Keystone. One of those drop to 30MPH for a 1/2 mile things. This year, Colorado didn’t get our $6K annual ski trip…only the fourth time in 22 years that Colorado was passed over for another state/country. Can’t say the ticket is the only reason, but it sure stuck in my head when we discussed our trip…vote with your pockets folks…

    • 0 avatar

      Last ticket I got was in one of those construction zones with no construction going on that stayed up for months and months. Worse part about it is a slowed down when going into the construction zone but the speed limit sign was about 200 yards in front of the cones and the cop was hiding at the front of the zone. I seriously did not think he was pulling me over when the lights came on. He acted apologetic when I told him I slowed down by the cones but not apologetic enough to not give me a ticket. The judge was happy to dismiss the charges…as long as I paid a fee equal to the price of the ticket. Nice racket they have going.

  • avatar

    Stepped up enforcement will result in higher compliance, leading to lower ticket revenue. Plus, you get the unintended consequence of people avoiding your community and or state, much like golden suggested above.

  • avatar

    In Virginia, on I-81, through Salem/Roanoke … yes, the 5-10 mph cushion is totally dead.

  • avatar

    Proportionate sspeeding fines as seen in, I believe, Sweden.

    Earn a small amount of wage, your speeding fine is based upon that amount.

    A multi-millionaire playboy type with his $300,000 car going way above the limit, when I read the news story years ago, was levied a fine in the many thousands of dollars.

    Made sense, in a way.

    There is a likelihood that a working stiff at 8 bucks an hour paying $50 is as harmed as a much wealthier person paying thousands.

    It’s for the beloved “state,” isn’t it.

    We must support the beloved state and the enormous cost of pay, pension and benefits for the state’s minions and lackeys.

    It is the private sector that creates the national wealth with the ever-growing state existing as a parasite.

  • avatar

    I haven’t noticed much change in and around Boston, save for a few very specific areas, since the economic downturn. In fact, I’ve looked for it. But, as several previous posters said, I’ve routinely been passed by clumps of traffic moving 5-12mph in excess of the limit with cops in the clumps.

    It seems that folks up here either really need to exceed (need…for speed!) by 10-15+ on I-90, 495, 93, etc, OR do something really stupid like blow by the local popo while they stand at construction/maintenance sites during working hours (something I’m still not used to them doing, btw).

  • avatar

    Watch civil forfeiture cases increase as well. Allowing police agencies to seize property without any attendant criminal convictions, and then letting the proceeds of those seizures flow into those agencies’ budgets is an open invitation to abuse by those police agencies.

    The real division in America is the divide between public employees, well paid, well benefited, with golden guaranteed pensions, and an entitled and imperious attitude on one side, and everyone else is on the other side. There are wealth creators in the private sector and tax eaters taking home a government paycheck.

    Federal employees are paid (I won’t say earn) about twice what people earn in the private sector. Their salaries are generally higher and their benefit package is unmatched in the private sector. While state and local public employees’ salaries are more in line with what is paid in the private sector, they average about 40% more in pensions and benefits. Most of them have virtual sinecures. They joke about how you practically have to shoot their bosses to get fired.

    When there’s a budget crunch are there layoffs? Rarely at the state and local levels, virtually never with the federal workforce.

    In the current recession, the private sector has lost millions of jobs while Obama’s “stimulus” package has gone primarily into the hands of public employees.

    When local and state budgets must be cut, how do public employees act? By using threats and scare tactics.

    And then there’s the obvious corruption involved in allowing public employee unions to make political contributions. Allowing public employees to have political power is an open invitation to rent seeking.

    And the police are just as bad as any of the other kleptocrats. In fact, they are among the worst abusers of ginned up disability pensions.

    Frankly, I don’t think public employees should have the right to organize labor unions. Actually, I’m not even sure they should have the right to vote while their working for the public.

    Disclaimer: The above comments apply to non-military gov’t employees. The military is literally in harm’s way 24/7/365. Police officers will let your child bleed to death rather than risk their own safety and they’ve gone to court to establish the fact that they have no legal obligation to protect you. Cops don’t serve and protect, unless you’re talking about their buddies on the force. The only time they prevent crime is when they happen to arrest career criminals. They stop virtually no crimes in progress, but are rather good at showing up after someone’s been victimized.

    • 0 avatar

      Hokey smokes!

      Ronnie +1…

    • 0 avatar

      @ Ronnie Schreiber:

      “Police officers will let your child bleed to death rather than risk their own safety and they’ve gone to court to establish the fact that they have no legal obligation to protect you. Cops don’t serve and protect, unless you’re talking about their buddies on the force. The only time they prevent crime is when they happen to arrest career criminals. They stop virtually no crimes in progress, but are rather good at showing up after someone’s been victimized.”

      What a hateful, misguided statement. Do you feel that added anything to the discussion of traffic enforcement? I can shrug off most of the cop hating rants I come across, but that’s a bit much. As a military veteran and a currently serving police officer, I can assure you that I am not as you described, nor are the vast majority of the people I’ve worked with.

      I am an ethical person, and that’s the foundation of my approach to law enforcement. I’ve never had a ticket quota, and I’ve never written a ticket when a verbal warning would do. I try to serve my citizens like I would want an officer to help a member of my family. I rarely use physical force, because I’m usually successful in talking a person into making a smart decision. I know I have a good chance of getting spit on, punched, kicked, stabbed, shot, or run over every night I go to work, and I still do it. I’ve seen things I’d rather forget, but never will. I’ve also had the satisfaction of removing children from horrible situations, arresting men that beat their women, and bringing murderers to justice. I work very hard to always be fair and lawful in everything I do, on and off duty, not because I’m worried I’ll get caught screwing up, but because it’s the right way to behave.

      I’m a police officer, I love my job, I’m good at it, and I have nothing to apologize for. Before you write another sweeping generalization trashing my profession, please pause for a moment and remember not every police officer is the self-serving bastard you described above.

    • 0 avatar

      I have to say this is the first time I’ve seen someone complain about the stimulus money going to public employees. Does your delusion come naturally or were you drugged and brainwashed by a Tea Party mad scientist?

    • 0 avatar

      I think you’re confused. The concept is public SERVICE, not public SUBSERVIENCE.

    • 0 avatar

      +100, Ronnie… most of the stimulus money HAS gone to public sector employees.

      But -99 for the cop-bashing. Most cops like nothing more than catching criminals in the act of committing a crime.

    • 0 avatar

      April 1st, 2010 at 9:04 am
      “Police officers will let your child bleed to death rather than risk their own safety and they’ve gone to court to establish the fact that they have no legal obligation to protect you. Cops don’t serve and protect, unless you’re talking about their buddies on the force. The only time they prevent crime is when they happen to arrest career criminals. They stop virtually no crimes in progress, but are rather good at showing up after someone’s been victimized.”

      What a hateful, misguided statement.

      Thank you for your military service. I hope you understand the difference between the military and the police.

      Have you ever, even once, publicly acknowledged to a non-cop that a police policy was foolish, counterproductive or possibly illegal? Have you ever called out one of your fellow officers for abusing authority?

      Since you said my comment was off topic in a thread about traffic enforcement. Okay. How about professional courtesy on traffic stops? Ever use your badge to get out of a ticket? Ever let an off duty cop off with a warning? Ever criticize a fellow cop for doing that? We already know that if you’re a cop, you can probably drive drunk with impunity until you injure or kill someone. Drunk driving cops get a ride home. Regular folks go to the pokey.

      I note that while you characterized my assessment of those on your side of the thin blue line as hateful and misguided, you didn’t say that I was factually wrong.

      I’ll just use a couple examples. When, in April of 2009, 13 people were shot at an immigration center in NY state, after hearing the last gunshot (which turned out to be the shooter killing himself), police waiting 45 minutes before they entered the building, which meant they let people bleed to death. The same happened at Columbine, where some people waited for hours to receive medical care, because the police were too concerned for their own safety to enter the building, hours after the last shot.

      If cops “serve and protect” why have LEOs, their departments and their unions worked hard in the courts to establish the legal fact that they are not legally obligated to protect us?

      Cops care about cop safety first and last, well, after their pensions and benefits. Everyone else’s safety is secondary.

      0 PeriSoft

      I have to say this is the first time I’ve seen someone complain about the stimulus money going to public employees. Does your delusion come naturally or were you drugged and brainwashed by a Tea Party mad scientist?

      If it’s the first time you’ve heard it, that’s because you’re probably living in a left-of-center-Obama-acolyte bubble. According to the Obama administration’s own data at, fully half of the stimulus money went to the Dept. of Education, a completely useless agency, as are most agencies in Washington.

      How does borrowing billions to pay public employees actually stimulate the economy? Public employees don’t create any wealth.

      April 1st, 2010 at 10:48 am

      I think you’re confused. The concept is public SERVICE, not public SUBSERVIENCE.

      Who said anything about cops having to be subservient? But since you brought it up, yeah, I expect my employees to be subservient. The definition of the word is “serving or acting in a subordinate capacity”. Are not employees subordinate to their employers?

      It’s almost funny that you mentioned it, because the average cop expects deference to his inflated notion of his authority.

      The sad reality is that you don’t have to commit a crime in America to be jailed, you just have to treat a cop with less deference than his ego demands.

      I know someone who is a lawyer and a psychiatrist. He’s credentialed as an expert witness / special master by the courts here. He told me that far too many cops have a “prison guard mentality”, with the public in the position of being the prisoners. Prison guards rightfully have to consider any perceived challenge to their authority to be a possible threat to their safety and lives. Too many cops believe that any pushback from civilians is grounds for showing them who’s boss.

    • 0 avatar

      @ Ronnie Schreiber:

      I see there’s no moving you off your cop hating stance, but I’ll answer your questions. Since you already know I’m a lying, cowardly, power hungry sack of crap, consider this to be more time wasted, which you also know I’m good at.

      Don’t worry, I know the difference between the military and the police. You respect one and hate the other. I don’t know how you reconcile those opinions, since quite a few of us vile coppers are veterans. Maybe prolonged exposure to pepper spray turns us to the dark side.

      I routinely tell co-workers and civilians that some policies are wrong, but none that I know of are illegal. There are some legal practices that I don’t employ because I don’t believe they’re ethical, and I’ve told officers that use them that I think they’re wrong. I’ve had to document officers abusing their authority, and I’ve kept a few from doing so. Those darn ethics make life tough.

      I’ve never used my badge to get me anything except a paycheck. I do my best to obey traffic laws both on and off duty, and have since I began driving. I’ve let off duty cops off with a verbal warning, just like I regularly do for any other citizen.

      I don’t drink. In fact, the only time I’ve ever had a drink was a single shot at a friend’s wedding. Alcohol isn’t for me, but I have no problem with others getting drunk responsibly. I’ve given many drunk citizens rides home instead of pushing a weak DUI case; I’ve never had the opportunity to stop a co-worker for DUI. Co-workers have been convicted of DUI and fired, and I often tell rookies that’s the easiest way to get canned. Let me know if I should stop letting them in on that secret, since I can see how you might warp that into another case of preferential treatment.

      Ronnie, I’ve read more accounts of cops screwing up than you ever will. I do that because I don’t want to be “that guy”. There’s no point in countering tales of law enforcement mistakes with stories of success; every fair minded person knows they both exist. When someone needs my help, they get it, and if that means kicking in a door to stop a woman from beating on her girlfriend some more (like last night), I do it. Until you’ve been in my position, you really can’t understand all that goes through your mind when you’re doing dangerous stuff like chasing armed carjackers into heavy brush, kicking in doors, and the like.

      I do care about my safety. I hope you’ll forgive me and the rest of the law enforcement community for wanting to end our shifts in one piece. I routinely deal with people that hate my uniform (they don’t really see more than that) at least as much as you do, yet I do my job fairly and professionally. If you don’t believe a word I’ve said, fine by me. Dukeboy01 and I will be waiting for you to call 911, and we’ll still show up and do whatever needs to be done.

    • 0 avatar

      toasy writes, “Since you already know I’m a lying, cowardly, power hungry sack of crap,”

      You’re my network administrator?

    • 0 avatar

      @ KixStart:

      I’m branching out. Have that TPS report on my desk by 5.

    • 0 avatar

      Perhaps Mr. Toasty you are an excellent cop who is moral and conscientious in the execution of your duties, but I’ve never met you, nor has anyone I know met you or anyone like you. I’m sure there are many fine police officers on the force, they’re just not the ones people tend to meet, or see, or hear about, or believe exist.

      Every cop I’ve ever met, both military and civilian has absolutely been a self-important little dictator wannabe who would, without hesitation smite you with the full extent of their authority should you dare to challenge their delicate little egos. Oh and sprinkle in a healthy dose of racism, just for realism’s sake. No one believes that ALL cops are A-holes, just most of em, because that’s what we see on a regular basis.

      Explain to me how three officers, full grown men found it justifiable and necessary to Tazer a pregnant women repeatedly risking both her health, the health of her unborn child, and likely traumatizing her 11 year old son? Think he’ll ever join the police force? She challenged their authority and by extension their egos so they struck her down violently. Worst of all their actions were deemed justified? Not signing the ticket is not even a crime, they had no reason to arrest her in the first place. Police today operate with total impunity it seems, no oversight, no consequences, and certainly no morals. It’s no longer “Serve and Protect”, now it is just “Tax and Collect”.

      I served in the military, and work regularly with the police, I promise you, the “best and the brightest” they went to college, the dregs of society who couldn’t make it anywhere else? they joined public service. I know, I’m one of them, oh there are gems out there, like our Mr Toasty who struggle to do what is right, but they are buried beneath a mountain of filth, a forgotten minority.

    • 0 avatar

      Thank you joegamer, I tend to wax less eloquently these days around TTAC…


      If you really do carry out your duties in the fashion you describe, then I do thank you for doing your job correctly.

      Please be aware that most (not all, but most) of your fellow LEOs don’t do their job the way you do. I realize you know this, and are toeing the thin blue line, but please, it’s 2010. We really do know exactly how the corruption inherent to the system works.

      Despite all the frippery to the contrary, the ‘Patriot Act’ made this country at least as bad as Stalin’s Russia. Worse, because we had a Constitution to prevent such stuff from happening.


      Yup. You are the trash that passes for LEOs these days.

  • avatar

    In Central Florida, the motorcycle HP cops will swarm all over the toll roads. They’re like fire ants: If you see a single one, that is your sign that there are probably a few more behind you and five to seven more in front of you.

    They use an unmarked car or a cop in a hobo outfit to “tag” the speeders and call the motorcycle cops to swoop in.

    One day around lunchtime, I saw seven or eight cars and trucks pulled over by these motorcycle cops. Saw more motorcycle cops stopped at the onramps and in the medians, waiting for the radio man to phone in another target. Didn’t see a single MC cop for months before or for months afterward.

    I don’t mind increased enforcement, or even strict enforcement. Not as long as it’s regular. Regular and consistent enforcement will cause people to modify their behavior, which is safer for everybody in the long term.

    But to have these “sudden stings” every few months is a bit cruel and does nothing to promote long term safe driving.

  • avatar

    I disagree. I’ve seen, as a traffic lawyer, that the cops can write all day every day, with a 10 or 15 mph cushion, using the oldest non-instant on radar in the Barracks. There are just so many folks out there paying no attention that you don’t have to work hard.

    Whenever I see a ticket with a low number (under 80/65, or under 70/55), I ask the client if they got a “roadside reduction”, or if “something else was going on”. Usually the answer is yes, the speed as bagged was higher, or there was some lane changing, etc.

    Here in NY, when the state gave us a “Driver Responsibility Assessment”, a $300 or $450 points tax on a typical speeding ticket, many cops began to write 74 or 75 in a 55 instead of 76 or 77, just below the DRA tax threshold. (Aside: NY State gets you three times. Fine, a surcharge, currently $85 per ticket, and the DRA. Typical 77/55 with a guilty plea is a $500 nut now. That’s why you fight EVERY ticket, no matter who you are or where you live. FIGHT EVERY TICKET.)

    This may also be due to the fact that the State Police lost massive OT for traffic tickets in the downstate NY area, due to changes by the NYSP. Many of the road Troopers are, shall we say, “dissatisfied” with the current NYSP OT policy and as such are still writing but not going out of their way to make NY State money.

    I know cops who only write over 85 or even one guy, who used to write 90 +. His attitude was that there was only one of him, but he could spend all shift writing these high flyers, there were enough of them on I 95.

    Cops only go low on the threshold speed when there is little traffic. I don’t see this one gaining much traction in the NY metro area.

    • 0 avatar

      @ speedlaw:

      “That’s why you fight EVERY ticket, no matter who you are or where you live. FIGHT EVERY TICKET.”

      I couldn’t agree more. It’s your right to contest those tickets and make the government prove their case. Making a cop look bad in court is an excellent way to get back at them, and even if you lose, a judge may exercise some discretion when determining the penalties.

    • 0 avatar

      From what I’ve seen here in VA, fighting a ticket just costs you extra, plea guilty and pay over the phone/web/mail, you only have to pay the fine, go to court and you end up paying the fine plus “court costs”(was about 60 bucks for my first speeding ticket here, a lesson about how VA operates I suppose) shouldn’t court costs come out of all the taxes I pay? Oh and holy crap are there a lot of cops here, no wonder I pay taxes out the ass.

  • avatar

    I have to share this because it is just too funny.

    I received my first speeding ticket in the last 19 years on the first week of January of this year.

    I made a right out of my subdivision onto a single lane two-way main road heading north at 4:30am. Although there was a vehicle travelling the same direction just south of me, I had plenty of time to make my turn and go on my merry way. Surprisingly he caught up pretty fast and since it was so early in the morning and I hadn’t had my first cup of cofee, I thought I must have misjudged. I did what came instinctive to me; I sped up and put some distance between the two of us.

    Just a mile up as this road ends, I must make a right onto a three lane main thoroughfare. As I make my turn I see the same headlights coming closer on my rear view mirror so I shoot for the middle lane and windup the 3.0L DOHC through the gears, never looking down at the speedometer but I know I can hit 70 mph on third gear as I get close to the redline. Mission accomplished, disaster averted, the perpetrator of such blatant tailgating has been left behind in my ice crystals as I pierce this chilly 7 ºF morning on my way to “The Plant”.

    Oh not so fast. Just as my speed plateaus when I short shift 4th and 5th here he comes for round three. I just about had enough and resigned to letting him pass me and rid myself of this molestation. He on the other hand had a different view of the situation. Ten yards behind me now, he turns on his flashing lights and my resignation turns to defeat. Just as I thought, he clocked me at 68 mph on a 50. Didn’t quite get to 70 on third gear but close.

    Back to this being a very cold morning, my car was nice and hot by now as I sat there waiting for my pass to explain all this to the Judge. He lowered it to a moving violation, no points and $160. 00 fine. At least it went to my own city. Next time I’ll pay more attention on “who” is behind me so early in the morning.

  • avatar

    Is this good business?

    The fine for way over the speed limit is definitely higher than the fine for a little over the speed limit. It takes as much time for the revenue enforcement officer to write the ticket for either.

    There’s more potential revenue return from stopping the high speed speeder.

    How many high speed speeders spewing dollar signs from their exhaust will zazz by while the officer is messing around on the side of the road with the low speed speeder?

    • 0 avatar

      No, it wouldn’t be good business. As a practical matter one officer can only stop so many cars and write so many citations in a shift. There are so many out there doing 15 MPH (my personal limit for the Interstate) or more over the limit that there is no reason to lower that threshold.

      In KY the fine for doing 10 mph over the limt is $20 plus court costs ($143.00 in my jurisdiction.) The fine for 15 MPH over is $30 plus court costs.

      Even if I could pull over more people at lower speeds and write more overall tickets, it’s still better (both from a revenue standpoint and a PR standpoint) if I only write the “big” ones. Let’s say that by writing for a lower speed I increase my daily ticket average by 20%. Instead of writing 25 “big” tickets a day, I write 30 “little” tickets. The revenue generated at the lower speeds is 25% less than it would be for the higher speeds. ($30 X 25 “big” tickets = $750 in revenue. $20 X 30 “little” tickets = $600 in revenue.)

      In the real world it doesn’t work that way. It takes me as long to write a “little” ticket as it does to write a “big” ticket. There would be no real way to increase the efficency as much as I did in the example. There are only so many hours in a day. As long as there are plenty of “fish” in the sea doing 15 or more over (and there are, believe me) then writing garbage tickets for lesser speeds is actually hurting the government’s revenue stream.

      Look, a cop and a shyster (Speedlaw) are telling you guys the same thing. You might want to consider that this really is a non- issue.

    • 0 avatar

      Look, a cop and a shyster (Speedlaw) are telling you guys the same thing. You might want to consider that this really is a non- issue.

      Etymology: probably from German Scheisser, literally, defecator. Date: 1844. : a person who is professionally unscrupulous especially in the practice of law …

      While I’m not thrilled with what trial lawyers are doing to this country, my closest and dearest friends are attorneys and they’re all pretty ethical and scrupulous.

      If you’re going to call lawyers “shysters”, don’t get upset when people assume that cops are corrupt. If “shyster” is an acceptable reference to any lawyer, don’t get your teat in a wringer when I called your groupies “badge bunnies” and “holster sniffers”.

    • 0 avatar

      Actually, Ronnie, most of us refer to our groupies as as Badge Bunnies or holster sniffers ourselves, so you’re not really hurting my feelings if you do the same. A better analogy to the shyster example would have been to call me a pig. Feel free to use that on the next one of my brothers in blue who pulls you over. I’ll be sure to forward a link to this thread up and down the thin blue line so that he’ll get the joke. He’ll think it’s hilarious, I promise.

      As for referring to Speedlaw as a shyster, that might have been in poor taste, but it wasn’t meant as a serious insult. It was intended at worst to be nothing more than low- level friendly Internet ball busting and I figure that Speedlaw’s probably been called worse if he’s been an attorney for any length of time, as have I. At any rate, I figure he’s more than capable of taking care of himself. Speedlaw, if you’ve came back and are reading this, you’ve got a free shot if you feel you need it.

      As for you and the rest of your nonsense, both in this comment thread and the other one further up, I care not. In fact, I figure the best way to deal with you is to bid you farewell and then go back to daydreaming about how awesome it’s going to be to retire before age 50 with a pension that pays me roughly my annual salary for the rest of my life to just stay home and futz around on old Camaros while you will still be humping a cubicle, worrying about the hit your 401K just took, and hoping you don’t get downsized. It’s sure going to be a lot of fun to be able to get out and do stuff while I still have my health instead of having to wait until I’m 65 like you will be. If I get tired of sleeping until noon and drinking beer before five, maybe I’ll give the private sector a try. Perhaps as an accident reconstructionist or investigator for the insurance companies. Who am I kidding? I’ll go work for the state or Federal government and earn another pension.

      Oh, and later this afternoon on my way in to work, I’ll make sure to push my government owned vehicle, the gas tank of which will be filled with tax- payer funded gasoline, to 100 mph as I pass one of my brothers in blue writing one of the little people up for 75 in a 70. I had plans to be productive today. Got a couple of followup investigations I was going to see about but instead I think I’ll take some “me” time on your dime. If the radio calls me, I’ll go. Otherwise, I think I’ll find a nice tree to park under and read a book. When it’s time for dinner, I’ll go by my favorite fast food joint and get my lunch for half off.

      The really cool thing about those last two paragraphs is that you will fume about them all day, whether they are actually true or not.

  • avatar

    @ Joe_Gamer:

    All I can say about the Taser incident you mentioned is I doubt that would’ve happened with most of the people I work with.

    I’ve carried a Taser and pepper spray for years, and only actually used each of them once. They’re both useful tools, but not nearly as useful as having solid verbal skills. If I can employ a Jedi mind trick to avoid a physical confrontation, I consider that a win for everyone. Part of that working is making it clear that there are other, less desirable outcomes. I usually issue a direct order to a subject along the lines of, “I am giving you a direct order to leave this area immediately. If you don’t leave, you’re going to jail.” That’s a concise order that’s easy to obey, and I rarely say more than that before making an arrest. Please realize that there’s usually more discussion leading up to that order, but once I reach that point, it’s my duty to enforce the order. If I said it, I know it’s a lawful order, and I meant it. If the subject requires the use of force to effect the arrest, that’s the result of their decisions, not mine.

    Here’s how I normally handle the few people that refuse to sign a citation. I recently had a driver lie to me about being the victim in a Hit & Run accident. I listened to his account, examined his car and the scene, and determined quite conclusively he was lying. I even had a Hit & Run investigator examine the car and scene without knowing anything about the driver, and he came to the same conclusion. I photographed everything and recorded the driver’s statement. I told the driver what I had determined and gave him an opportunity to revise his statement, but he refused, so I issued him a citation. He refused to sign it, so I wrote REFUSED on the citation, gave him his copy, and noted his refusal in my report. Technically, I could have arrested him in this instance, but there was no need to take him to jail. I told him to set a court date if he wanted to argue his case, and I hope he will, but more likely, he’ll spend the rest of his life bitching about how some mean old cop screwed him over. I see a lot of that.

    Here’s some advice for anyone that feels the cops are out to get you. If an officer starts acting like an ass, don’t escalate the situation, and do your best to document the incident (cell phone cameras, witnesses, etc.). Let them step all over themselves, and if you feel it’s worth the effort, make a complaint with their agency. Be aware that quite a few officers are always carrying active recording devices (most of the people I work with are), and those recordings will show up in court or any complaint investigation. If you’re unhappy with a law enforcement practice, complain to the agency, the civilian authority, and local media. Despite all of the hyperbole, this isn’t Stalin’s USSR; exercise your freedoms. Lastly, with regard to traffic enforcement, do your best to drive legally, and go to court if you get a ticket.

    • 0 avatar

      Hyperbole? C’mon man, we all know better.

      It IS just this side of the USSR, and my ancestors fought for better. I know there are places where I can drive 190MPH drunk as hell and get a code escort home because I know the platoon (and know their dirt).

      I know damn good and well if I’m in the ‘wrong place at the wrong time for a white boy driving a Porsche’ I’m gonna get lit up. Especially if I happen to have one of my ‘negroid’ buddies with me. I’ll make a call when the take-downs come on and have it fixed before he asks me for my license, but I’m fully aware of what would happen if I didn’t have ‘friends’.

    • 0 avatar

      @ porschespeed:

      Yes, this thread contains quite a bit of hyperbole. Is anyone restricting your access to the internet (China)? If you are convicted of a crime, can the court order you lose a limb (Saudi Arabia)? Will you be jailed for criticizing the government (Venezuela, China, Cuba, etc.)? Will your family be sent to a labor camp because you criticized the government (North Korea)? As for your comparison to Stalin’s USSR, please direct me to the stateside equivalent to the Lubyanka. I haven’t come across any execution rooms in my place of work yet, but I’ll let you know when I do. As bad as you and the others say our system is, it’s a damn sight better than the vast majority of the world. If you don’t appreciate what the U.S. has, change it; you’ve got that right, too. I’ve had my say. I can’t reconcile my reality with yours, and I doubt further discussion here will change anything.

      My advice to all of you is to seek out a member of law enforcement that you trust and ask to spend some time with them on the job. (BTW, save all the laughter about trusting a cop.) I’m talking about spending a shift or two with someone that works the streets, not a detective or administrator, School Resource Officer, Community Police Officer, etc. A beat cop that’s subject to call is what you want, and try to go during the evening and night on a weekend. Trust me, whatever your opinion of law enforcement, you’ll learn something.

      Being a cop isn’t (or shouldn’t be) about exceeding ticket quotas and subjugating the citizenry. If your local law enforcement is as draconian as some of you say, get involved in changing it. Many communities have citizen review boards that are involved in the hiring process and policy decisions. Local government officials have an impact on department operations; become one or air your concerns with them.

      For those of you that think you would be a better officer than all of the lazy, racist, jack booted thugs you complain about, prove it. Many departments have reserve officer programs. It’s a great way to learn about your community, and you’ll definitely feel differently about law enforcement when you’re the one doing it. Doing any of the above would be a far better way to spend your time than complaining anonymously on the internet to a tired cop. When TTAC starts an Ask A Cop column, you can come back here and tell everyone about your experiences.

      @ Ronnie Schreiber:

      Almost forgot to add this: Ronnie, you seemed upset that a lawyer was referred to as a shyster, yet you have no problem heaping insults upon my entire profession, and by entension, me. Contrary to just a few of your insults, I won’t be letting any children bleed to death while some POS shoots up a school, and I don’t treat law abiding citizens like prisoners. You’ve yet to apologize for anything you’ve said, and I’ll respectfully submit you know far less about this topic than you think.

    • 0 avatar

      With regards to the USSR metaphor, I did say ‘just this side’. No, you generally won’t have to pay a bribe up front in most jurisdictions – we haven’t quite crossed that line yet.

      The NSA scans the entire web. NarusInsight is pretty effective, but not nearly as scary as the next generation. It aggregates you, your friends, your bank account, and if you often buy gas in a neighborhood that has a militia group in it, expect to be watched.

      Essentially the old KGB, save for it’s done with computers instead of your neighbors.

      Execution rooms? Not exactly, but ‘prison suicides’ do happen every now and then, don’t they? But generally, plenty of ways to give a prisoner an attitude adjustment without leaving too many marks or killing them.

      You can easily be ‘disappeared’ in this country and be shuffled around for months or longer – read any of the current news about ICE. They take people and refuse them representation, won’t tell their citizen relatives where they are, have a horrible record of deaths from denial of medical treatment, and, so far, operate above the law.

      Crime labs have huge issues with evidence custody from skimming the confiscated coke and heroin, to complete falsification of test results.

      Rampart Division was sadly not an isolated incident. Only it’s public outing was.

      None of this is from the fringe, these are all well-vetted stories from main stream media outlets.

      I do understand where much of the corruption comes from – drug money is plentiful and ubiquitous. Sooner or later punching the clock for 50K a year gets frustrating when you see people making 50K a week. Or a day. So you take a little cash to look the other way. Maybe it stops there, but oft times it doesn’t. Prohibition of alcohol provided exactly the same drivers toward corruption, that we haven’t learned the lesson is beyond the pale.

      The Stanford Prison Experiment is played out everyday, all across this country.

      As to quotas not existing, I’m trying to think of the department that doesn’t evaluate your performance on production – it’s generally not just traffic tickets – the number of Terry’s you do, misdemeanor arrests, felony arrests, all figure in. So, is that a quota? Not exactly, but if you want to keep your job, or get promoted, well, you do the math.

      In most jurisdictions, to justify your take-home car, you need to document that you do a few stops here and there on your way home, or while driving it off-duty. Doesn’t matter if you see anything, you do the stops (or fake your logs…).

      Much of the public tolerance for police misconduct seems to find it’s origin in the oft-perpetrated mythology that being a LEO is somehow risking one’s life for the public on a daily basis.
      Actually, LEO is statistically speaking, neither dangerous, nor hard work. (Yes, there are some exceptions to that rule.)

      One is far more likely to be killed on the job being a steel worker, roofer, fisherman, logger, airline pilot, farmer, electrician, taxi driver, truck driver, or refuse collector.

      (That list goes on at the Bureau of Labor Statistics…)

      As I said and will continue to say, you may be the exception to the current rule. If you are, once again, thanks for doing your job.

    • 0 avatar

      “Despite all the frippery to the contrary, the ‘Patriot Act’ made this country at least as bad as Stalin’s Russia. Worse, because we had a Constitution to prevent such stuff from happening.” – porschespeed

      That’s exactly what you said, and it’s definitely an exaggeration. You can own your own business. You don’t need “travel papers” to move about America, you can have any job you can get, and you can negatively comment on any political topic you choose. You can have quite a few personal firearms, and you can legal carry them on your person in most areas. If The Man comes to your house and wants inside, with very few exceptions, you can tell him to pound sand and close the door (or not even answer it). You can buy nearly anything you want, and very often things you can’t afford. The list goes on and on. Yes, there are some limits on your freedoms, and there are abuses of power, but saying America is “at least as bad as Stalin’s Russia” is most definitely hyperbole.

      I’m sickened by the examples you cited, too. One of the reasons I became a police officer was to counter all of that. What I’m asking all of you to do is to get involved in combating those wrongs, and I mentioned some ways you can do it. BTW, don’t forget that we’re free to discuss all of the abuses you mentioned, and quite a few of the abusers went to prison for their actions. I don’t think that happened often in the USSR.

      Almost forgot to thank you for at least giving me the benefit of the doubt about my integrity. I appreciate the thought.

    • 0 avatar


      Yes, I stand by the stand by the Stalinist quotes. On the periphery there’s a bit of a stretch, but ‘Patriot’ gave any LEO unlimited (and unchecked by the Constitution) powers. You tell any LEO to ‘pound sand’ and you’ll end up in cuffs, after SWAT/HRT is called in. Held until the ‘right’ people are called upon. Hopefully, you don’t get shot in the process…

      If, in fact, you have the viewpoint that you espouse, please do not lose your idealism. That is what this country is truly built upon. My direct relatives have been here since we were ‘the colonies’ and attended the Continental Congress, so I’m a bit steeped in that history. And, hence, a bit over-observant of what the wrong that has been done in the name of our Country.

      I have often fought the good fight, and sometimes paid dearly, but that is what is required of our Republic.

    • 0 avatar

      @ porschespeed:

      Constitutional law regulates my daily activities, not the Patriot Act. As an LEO that knocks on doors for a living, I have no idea why you think the Patriot Act allows me to do whatever the hell I like if someone doesn’t want to let me in their home. There are some very structured exceptions to the 4th Amendment that allow me to force entry (warrants being the best of them), and I’ve yet to cite the Patriot Act as justification for anything to do with my job. Simply put, you’re wrong if you think local law enforcement agencies are using the Patriot Act to Stalinize their communities.

      As for the Feds, you may have a point, but again, this ain’t the USSR.

      Legal challenges to the Patriot Act are wending their way through the court system, and we’ll have to wait for the rulings. Maybe it does infringe on the rights of U.S. citizens and parts of it will be struck down, but for now, it’s the law. IIRC, it was passed by an overwhelming majority of congress members, so it isn’t as if it was passed through some trickery. I can understand your concerns about the way it could be used, and I generally agree that if a thing can be done, it will, which I think applies to possible abuses of Patriot Act powers. Still, cops aren’t beating down doors with the Patriot Act taped to their breaching rams around here.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not sure where you are but I assure you, ‘Patriot’ is the law of the land. You can violate the entire Constitution and have no fear – it’s all about ‘Homeland Security’. (Just the phrase makes me vomit…) There is no Fourth in most of America.

      As I said, keep fighting the good fight. You are a minority, but a few people who truly believed have always changed the world.

  • avatar

    Uncle Jim, a two-term sheriff, did not hold law enforcement personnel in general in much esteem.

    His semi-joking general statement in a world of exceptions AND generalities was and is;

    Cops; too lazy to work a real job and too scared to steal.

  • avatar

    “….And then there’s the obvious corruption involved in allowing public employee unions to make political contributions. Allowing public employees to have political power is an open invitation to rent seeking…”

    The recent Supreme Court Ruling (passed by the “Scalito-Roberts” judges on the right) allows Big Business the same ability to buy political will as the unions. Who has the real money to throw behind that? Business can easily bury any labor union. I feel that NEITHER should have the ability to do this, but the fair and balanced judges saw to ignore over 100 years of precedent.

    “…Federal employees are paid (I won’t say earn) about twice what people earn in the private sector. Their salaries are generally higher and their benefit package is unmatched in the private sector. While state and local public employees’ salaries are more in line with what is paid in the private sector, they average about 40% more in pensions and benefits…”

    I guess I should call my sister who has a PhD in economics that the feds aren’t paying her enough as my salary is about 50% higher than hers and my education stops at a PE. In good times the private sector pays better, period. At least in the engineering field. Even when you count the pension and health benefits the private sector comes out ahead. When times are down like today, people get tossed out with the trash and this exerts a downward pressure on salaries. Those of us who are still employed make an extra effort to make sure we are not on the next cut list and the employers get to milk the workers for all they are worth. Now, the same work is getting done with less, but with the need to stay lean, there are no raises. Morale goes in the toilet but we should be “grateful” that we have a job, right? The civil service folks come out ahead in this situation because the don’t have too much of a threat of layoffs (but it can happen). If you are hostile toward the cops – that’s where this started – one can easily understand the anger, but to throw every person who works in the public sector in the same category as a crooked cop is just unfair and untrue. Americans take for granted much of what government provides(yes with tax dollars, yawn) but often don’t think about what it would be like without those services. All you need to do is look an any third world country with weak ineffective government. They are lucky to have running water, let alone a forum like this to vent their hostility…and they have plenty of crooked “cops”…

    • 0 avatar

      @ golden2husky:

      I completely agree, and will add that I’ve been lucky to see my salary (which is a far below the dream salary of $130k skor was throwing around) increase by more than 1% annually. Last year, we gave up all of the raises already agreed upon in the outgoing contract because there just wasn’t enough money to both higher new officers and pay the raises. I have a good job, but the schedule and the pay aren’t all that desirable.

      I’d be quite happy to see all political donations be limited to a small amount from individual people, with no PACs and the like allowed to provide direct or indirect support to candidates. The current system encourages all sorts of problems, and I don’t contribute to my union’s PAC because I think the system is bad. I don’t care for some of the things my union does, but I’ve seen the organization help officers that were being abused by management, so I still pay dues. I also need the union’s legal defense plan, because its very easy to spend thousands of dollars in defense of a lawsuit, regardless of its veracity.

    • 0 avatar

      Toasty: I have just read one of your posts above about walking in the shoes of the PD. My friend is a Miami Dade cop and I did a ride along on a midnight shift with him – on Friday. Two things stuck out right away. Some of the things we dealt with were smash-and-grabs. These POS kids destroy stores, steal cars, and drive with depraved indifference for the people around them…all for crap like basketball shirts and sneakers to be sold on the streets. They are not idiots, either. They know which cars have speed limiters, which are easy to steal and how to get away. My friend saw one case where a call came out for the smasher’s group of 4 cars. He guessed that they might be coming his way on the highway, and was correct. He was way over to the side of the road and they blew by him at close to 140 MPH. They were closing in on a “fly-over”, a bridge over waterways. This bridge was also a long ramp and the trash-kids didn’t make the curve…

      The second thing that struck me was the horrible despair in many broken “homes” that we saw. Drug addicts, abusive couples, absolute trash housing…it was really sad. It also made me grateful for what I have and for the job my friend does. Very few see this part of America and it makes you think a bit before just shooting off your mouth or pounding the keyboard with self righteousness and indignation.

      The biggest problem I see with the public’s opinion of the police is that for the most part, the only interaction the public has with the cops is for traffic related infractions. And, usually, the motorist did break the law, at least in a black and white (no pun intended) sense. Couple that with laws written solely to raise revenue and a system of performance evaluated quotas. It is not a coincidence that all the tickets I have seen at the railroad station come during the last week of the month. 2000 cars sitting all day makes for easy picking for registration and inspections. I have had a lot of dealings with New York City in my career and have found that about 10% of the police I have dealt with were crass, arrogant a-holes. This is not from traffic stops, but from dealings with construction of facilities for the police themselves. That leaves 90% who were professional. Of that, about 30% really went out of their way to be helpful and were genuine people. It is a shame that people tend to remember the worst, and never the best. And that goes for the many beleaguered civil servants in all facets of government who are all smeared with the “do-nothing” brush. Pathetic, isn’t it? I certainly won’t say there isn’t room for improvement in the provision of government services, but the idea that privatization of services equates to an automatic improvement is laughable.

    • 0 avatar

      Moderators: I just saw that my comments in this thread are awaiting moderation. Does that apply to everyone in this thread, or just me? If I’ve crossed a line, please let me know what it was. Maybe I missed something, but I haven’t seen anything said in this thread that requires moderation. If it was my use of the non-hyphenated “a-holes” below that set an automatic flag, my apologies. I just woke up and my sensibilities weren’t dialed in, but I edited the word to a more acceptable form. Please delete this paragraph if that was the problem.

      golden2husky, sounds like you got an eyeful on your ridealong, just as I suspected.

      You also nailed down part of the perception issue, because the vast majority of citizens are good people that rarely see an officer outside of a traffic stop. I’ve driven through plenty of speed traps in my travels, and I think they’re wrong. I’ve also let people slide a bit on keeping their registration up to date (but not insurance) and for equipment infractions, because things happen and not everyone has the time and money on hand to take care of problems immediately. Some officers, especially those specifically tasked with traffic enforcement, won’t let any traffic charges go uncited, and I know that raises quite a bit of ire among otherwise law abiding folks. As I said, if you believe you’re innocent of the charge, go to court and make the officer prove your guilt. However, if you know you committed the offense and are just pissed about other aspects of the traffic stop, you may be better served by complaining to the relevant department or governing body about the officer’s actions, or the tactics employed (speed traps, zero tolerance on equipment violations, etc.).

      There are plenty of crass, arrogant a-holes in my profession, as in most others, but the difference is the power such a person has to abuse. That’s why I recommend people take action to curb that kind of behavior, because I don’t want to work with those morons, and I sure don’t want the public to have to suffer their actions.

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